Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Apple Butter

Just the other week we made a trip to the apple orchard and I became the proud owner of too many gorgeous apples!! Too many apples--that's right...(This is a great "problem" to have)  I can never stop myself from picking extra produce at those beautiful U-Pick farms!  Here's the best part, with a minimal amount of work, (the slow-cooker does all the heavy lifting)--we now have a really delicious batch of apple butter... for pancakes, biscuits, really, it would be great on anything!!-- It's so good and the perfect addition to any October menu.

This apple butter was made in our slow cooker and truly, this recipe could not be easier.  It does take some time to cook the apples down...16 hours...(seems like a long time--but the slow cooker does all the work...) and the results are amazing!!  Don't let the long slow-cook of this apple butter scare you... it's worth it!

To begin I used a 6-quart slow cooker, ours is a Crock-Pot.

You'll need apples...I like to use two different varieties... why??  Apple flavors vary, and by using two different varieties your finished product will have a depth of flavor.  I use this same principle when I bake apple pies, multiple apple varieties yield the best all-around apple flavor.  The apples you choose regardless of variety should be fresh, unblemished, and smell really good-- like apples. I used about 8 cups of peeled and sliced apples for this recipe or about 12-15 medium-sized apples. (I used Macintosh and Honeycrisp)

Another great tip, be sure your spices are fresh.  Spices begin to lose their flavor-power after about 6-8 months...sometimes sooner.  If you have old cinnamon or old cloves in the back of the cabinet... those older spices can still be great for mulling apple cider or cinnamon toast, but when going to the trouble to make an amazing baked good or this apple butter, consider refreshing your spices before the baking season gets underway....the flavors of all your finished pies, cookies--and apple butter will be even better!

Apple Butter

8-10 cups of peeled and sliced apples (Try to use two different varieties for a well-rounded apple flavor)
2 cups granulated sugar (divided)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Peel 8-10 cups of fresh apples, cut into 2-inch chunks.  Be sure to remove and discard all of the apple peel, seeds, and any hard parts of the apple core. 
Fill a slow cooker with the prepared apples.
Add 1 cup of sugar and lightly stir to coat the apples.  Cover the apples and cook on HIGH for 6 hours, stirring occasionally during the 6 hours.
After the 6 hours, Add the remaining 1 cup of sugar and the cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.  Stir gently and cover.  Cook on LOW for 10 hours more.  Stir occasionally during the 10 hours.
After the apples have cooked down, the mixture will begin to thicken and the apple butter will take on a darker color. Use the back of a wooden spoon to break up any apple bits that might remain.  
Let the apple butter cool and then spoon into lidded jars.  Store the apple butter in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

*The longer you cook the apple butter, the color will deepen and the richer and more concentrated the flavors will become.  If you prefer a darker, richer apple butter, keep cooking it on low until you reach the consistency you're looking for.  This process of reaching the thickness and flavor really depends on the type of apple used and the freshness and juiciness of the apples too... it all plays a role in the finished product.

If you have a smaller slow cooker or a larger one, you can still use the basic recipe, simply adjust the sugar and spices for the number of apples you are using... less sugar and spice for a smaller amount of apples--and the apples may cook more quickly, Conversely, add a little more sugar and spice for a few more cups of apples, including adding a little longer cooking time. As always, season to your personal taste.  Enjoy!

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